Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Wishing you the most wonderful of Christmases today! God bless!

Monday, December 23, 2013

This weekend I felt worn. Tattered. Thread-bare. It seems that these days, weekends are every bit as difficult if not more so, than week days. I felt stretched thin from being needed to DO every second of the day. Between a teething infant and a toddler who refused to nap two days in a row, my time, my attention, my hands, were in high demand. There wasn't enough of me. There wasn't enough time. My hands could only hold so much- so many babies, so many books, so many activities to entertain, so many dishes, so many "I have told you a hundred times not to touch that!" and "Please listen," and "I'm going to ask you one more time and if you don't X I'm going to Y." No sooner had I found a moment to clean the wrecked house, than the children and husband (and myself, if I'm honest) had come in behind me and wrecked it again. It all felt a bit hopeless, honestly. It began to feel like I was spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.  All the work, all of the words, all of the energy was nothing. It was unnecessary and useless and striving after the wind.

But a still, quiet voice in my heart this morning reminded me that I have holy work to do. That everything I do or say with my children and my husband is holy work. Our children will learn from every single thing that is done in this house, but mostly my attitude and reactions. Was I kind and loving in response to requests for snacks and food (again)? Was I gentle in reprimand? Was I honest when asked repeated questions? Was my heart turned toward Christ when trials seemed to be overtaking me? Did I point my children and my husband toward Christ when they needed an answer that seemingly couldn't be found? Did I point them toward Christ just to give thanks for every small blessing? That is my work.

Laundry. Dishes. Dusting. Vacuuming. It all has to be done, but in joy. Out of duty and gratefulness to my God. A God who really doesn't care if it's done today or tomorrow or next week, but only that I do it with the understanding that I have these chores because I am blessed. I am blessed with a family that truly lives in our house making messes and enjoying good food and fun and laughter.

This afternoon, as her daddy was lifting her tiny, exhausted body out of her car seat, she laid her head sleepily on his broad shoulder, her long eyelashes sweeping the tops of her rosy cheeks. And in that moment I watched our hectic day come to a screeching halt as he gently cradled her head, and wrapped his arm around her waist. He sighed a contented sigh and drank up every drop of her wisps of golden hair and rounded baby face.

And then he said to me, "On her wedding day, I will pick her up and hold her just like this... because she will always be my baby..."

Be blessed.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ice Dancing

The days don't seem to be showing any signs of getting longer, and I'm in serious need of sunshine. Grey skies and cold temperatures have made these walls seem a bit tight- especially when you spend your days with an infant and a toddler who have zero sense of personal space. Yesterday we got freezing rain. Lots of it. My crape myrtles bowed low to the earth, defeated by the same cold and grey that threatens my sanity these days. But it certainly was beautiful...

Despite the stillness of our ice-covered yard, this weekend has been strangely chaotic for obvious reasons. The scramble to get cards mailed, presents purchased and wrapped, surviving sinus issues, a teething baby, as well as looking for a new church and the general everyday chaos that occurs in our house have me feeling a bit tattered. We're looking forward to spending time with family and having lots and lots of delicious food! And THEN I'm looking forward to rest. A good, long, hibernation should do the trick. Here's to winter!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

An Open Christmas Letter 2013

Our family sent out Christmas cards this year but we didn't send a letter. You know, those big long letters that you write in a size 2 font just to fit everything in? I secretly love reading those. I really do! I'm always so curious to see what everyone's family has been up to and all the accomplishments and milestones their kids have met in the past year! So the below will serve as our Christmas Letter for 2013.

Dear friends and family,
I hope that this letter finds you healthy and happy this holiday season! We've had a whirlwind year but we couldn't be more blessed! We ended 2012 by celebrating Vesper's first birthday and began it by celebrating Ryan's 28th! This was my first year to be at home with our children, and change seemed to be the theme of the year!
In March we were overjoyed to bring our baby boy, Richard Grey Ahlgrim (known by "Grey") into the world. It's as though he was supposed to be here all along. He is the happiest baby we've ever known- always smiling and laughing- and has brought indescribable joy into our family!
In the summer, we began the process of looking for a house, and although we had quite a time, we found a fantastic fixer-upper in a wonderful neighborhood for an unbeatable price.
Fall was spent moving into our new place and I can confidently say that we are starting to feel settled. We will begin cosmetic renovations in the spring to include painting and installing new hardwood floors.
A few things to note about our family this year:

Vesper has excelled tremendously since my coming home from work last November. She knew her alphabet by 13 months, and could recognize all of her letters and colors on sight by 15 or 16. She can also count to 20 and has begun memorizing and "reading" books to herself already! We're currently working on naming her double-digit numbers on sight and the sounds that letters make (she already knows several of these!) and hope to continue to extend her daily "Learning Time" into homeschool as she reaches three and four years old. She loves animals of all kinds and her favorite game is "What animal makes that sound?!" She has loved being in the "News House"- as she calls it- with all of the extra space (and stairs!) to run around. She also enjoys the back yard to play in and park at the end of the street! She turned 2 on December first and we celebrated with a Menagerie-themed birthday party.

From the moment this baby bear entered the world he's done everything just like a boy: harder, louder, rougher, bigger! He has had a tough time with acid reflux, and although he is off of his medication and special diet, he still has issues from time to time. Learning to sleep through the night took a bit of convincing for Grey, but he improved once we took away his pacifier (go figure) and was completely sleep-trained by five months! Such a show-off! He learned to crawl by six months and sit up at just over seven months! He's currently 9 months old and crawling at the speed of light and pulling up to stand. He has six teeth, and is working on three others! He pretty much refuses puree food anymore and loves to partake in whatever we're having, but his favorite meal seems to be goulash. I've never seen a baby as happy and giggly as this little man and I can't wait to see how he continues to grow and develop over the coming months!

Ryan began a job at Crossland Construction near the fall of 2012 and was pleased to have just celebrated his one-year anniversary with them. He has been promoted from the title of Project Engineer to Project Manager and will be receiving a new car as part of recognition for his stellar performance. In his spare time, Ryan has been building beautiful farmhouse tables and furniture to sell and will soon begin work on our new dining room table (our old one is too small for our new space!) He is such a wonderful example of hard work and godliness for our children and we're blessed to have him!

As I mentioned, this was my first year as a stay-at-home mom and boy was it a challenge! I knew there would be a learning curve, but I didn't realize that curve was really more of a circle- the learning and adjustments just never end! Tossing another baby into the mix certainly kept things interesting! However, the joy that has come from my being at home far outweighs the monetary benefits that would come from working outside of our home. I am able to have learning time with Vesper and watch each of my children grow and reach their respective milestones. They keep me on my toes, but for me, there is nothing more satisfying then being their mother and Ryan's wife. I love making a home for our family! I have continued to do photography, and although at a much lower capacity, I have been quite busy with shoots on weekends (and week nights during the warmer months). As I do not take shoots in January or February, most of my thoughts these days are occupied by the upcoming renovations that will occur in our new house. I can't wait to get started and make this lovely 60s beauty look and feel a bit more like the Ahlgrims.

We are truly blessed by each and every one of you and you are always in our hearts and prayers. Though much has changed within our family this past year, we held fast to God's sovereignty and gave thanks for His many blessings. Thank you so much for being a part of our lives and making 2013 a fantastic year!

God bless,
Chelsea, Ryan, Vesper, and Grey Ahlgrim

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finding your feet

Lately, Grey only wants to be standing. The only problem is that he can't stand up yet. This fact has not yet deterred him from trying. He tries to stand on everything: furniture, pillows, Dad, the dog... He'll probably get the hang of it soon and then we'll *really* be in trouble.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas at the Ahlgrim Haus

Christmas this year feels a bit off. We're still not completely unpacked, but we managed to find some Christmas boxes with ornaments and our stockings. We also finally bought a new tree after my beloved white tree bit the dust last year.

 Our new house doesn't have a fireplace, so we're improvising this year. Actually, I like the look so much, we'll probably continue to do it this way for years to come! Imagine how fun it will be for the kids to collect their stockings as they come down the stairs on Christmas morning!

We also found the box with some very special Christmas decorations: Grandma's lace angels, my Nana's nativity set, and not pictured, the large velvet "present" box that contained my wedding ring when Ryan proposed in 2006! Also, it appears someone (ahem. Vesper.) took the liberty of adding a bit of extra security for the Baby Jesus...

Our tree is a flocked version from Walmart that's really gorgeous. It has pinecones attached and everything. We went with a silver, red, and robin's egg color scheme this year and many of my favorite bird ornaments are featured prominently. My mother gets me one from Hallmark every year and I really love them! 


Here's the whole tree:

And my favorite piece is probably the simplest. We were lacking a Christmas wreath after ours all but disintegrated in the attic of our last house, and after finding only tacky, sparkly wreaths at the stores, I set out to make my own swag. I wanted something simple, classic, and rustic and I think I accomplished that using just branches of berries from our backyard bushes and some burlap ribbon.

I was extremely pleased with the outcome! And since we were feeling festive this weekend, I whipped up some gingerbread cookies and Vesper picked out some bright blue icing to decorate them with!

As I mentioned, we're still getting settled. Walls are bare and boxes are still hanging around. In fact, the room our Christmas tree is in actually looks like this:

That's basically all of our Art and mirrors shoved in a corner along with my desk chair, but somehow, taking the time to put up our Christmas decorations and actually celebrate is making this house feel more and more like home! I can't wait to spend our first Christmas morning here!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever has set in after only two days of cold and snow and my family room currently looks like it was flipped in the air, the contents spilling everywhere. The kids seem to be enjoying it, though- well, except for the one who's pouting because she can't go outside barefoot.

Looking forward to a weekend filled with more joyful chaos.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Snow Day Antics

Our first real snow has come, much to Vesper's delight. We snuck out for some snow-tasting while little brother was napping. I suspect we'll be doing a lot of that over the next few days until it melts!
I hope you're all staying nice and warm in this chilly winter weather!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Vesper's Menagerie Birthday Party!

Vesper turned TWO years old this weekend and we hosted a little get-together with our family and some close friends. The theme was "Menagerie" and the colors were white with dashes of pink and some black-and-white stripes. It was SO much fun!

Vesper wore a Ringmaster's costume that I made from some scrap felt. She had gold lapels and loops and little tails on the back. Her top hat headband was leftover from her birthday party last year
I used my handy kraft paper and some white acrylic paint to free-hand some friendly animals and then used leftover felt and foam scraps to create party hats and accessories for them!

Instead of opting for a traditional cake, we went with Vesper's favorite pink sprinkle donuts! For her topper I used some dollar store animals and painted them white. It was a hit with all the kiddos!

When I brought out her cake and the guests began to sing, Vesper's face lit up. I've never seen her look happier than she was at that moment. She just scanned the room with a big smile on her face. I will never forget it and I am so grateful to our friends and family for giving my girl that special moment on her special day!

And then she dug in, of course!

After Gramma and Papa brought out her new kitchen play set, chaos broke out as all the kids started to play. It was so much fun to watch them!

Sunday was her actual birthday and so she got to go to church dressed as her favorite: a ballerina/ fox. I will cherish these photos of her forever...

I mean, look at that sweet face... what a blessing...
 Happy birthday, Birdy!